Thursday, April 18, 2013

On guns and cowardice; the failure of the US Senate

The bipartisan gun control bill, with its minimal constraints and requirement for background checks, fell short in the Senate yesterday. Oh, a majority of senators supported it. But they weren't allowed to vote on it, because of the complex Senate procedures and the filibuster, which allows a minority to control that chamber. Essentially, every vote requires a super-majority now-- a point worth making and remaking, as our dysfunctional government grinds so many of us to pieces.

 This refusal to compromise is thanks to the Republicans, which is why the Senate is impotent and unable to govern. As it happens, several craven Democrats also refused to support the call to end debate. There's enough ignominy to go around.

This, despite the fact that a strong majority of Americans think there should be background checks.  But the NRA thinks that the mentally ill and the criminal should have a right to guns.  (It also thinks that explosives, such as those used in the Boston bombing, should be chemically anonymous.  Because the right to bear arms apparently includes the right to anonymously blow up children and other civilians.)

From Spydersden
 Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who is the minority leader, gloated at the failure. Gloated at the faces of parents and families of gun victims. Laughed at them. (McConnell is the one on the right. Toby Turtle is the one on the left.  I'd rather have the Turtle in the Senate.)

President Obama blasted the lies of the gun-worshippers, who invoke black helicopters and death panels and (gasp!) National Registries!  Even though none of that was in the bill.  And this worship of the 2nd amendment to carry guns, prevent licensing, is a fraud.
For well over two centuries the Supreme Court never decided that the Amendment granted a constitutional right to individuals to bear arms. The widely held notion that such a right existed was a myth fabricated by the NRA for its own self interest and for the corporate profits of gun manufacturers. This fabrication altered the mindset of most Americans to accept fictional Second Amendment rights that permitted the proliferation of all manner and kind of dangerous weapons. We became a gun culture run rampant. The gun manufacturers reaped enormous profits as gun sales soared. In 2011 industry wide gun sales were $4.3 billion.
It's all about profit, you see.  Money, from an industry that is based on killing people.

But the best response is a passionate op/ed in the NY Times from former AZ Representative Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head by a disturbed man who murdered several other people.
SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets.... 
.. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending. 
Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on. 
...They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing. 
They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest.... 
This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list. 

1 comment:

JCF said...

Preach, Gabby, Preach!

...and someone, ANYONE, run against and BEAT McConnell. Out the door in 2-0-1-4!